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Friedman, R.C. (1992). Myths and Mysteries of Same-Sex Love: By Christine Downing. New York: Continuum Publishing Co., 1989. 317 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 61:492-494.

(1992). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 61:492-494

Myths and Mysteries of Same-Sex Love: By Christine Downing. New York: Continuum Publishing Co., 1989. 317 pp.

Review by:
Richard C. Friedman

Homosexuality is written about by individuals from a wide variety of disciplines. Christine Downing, a professor of religious studies at San Diego State University and faculty member of the California School of Professional Psychology, discusses a specific aspect of the subject, same-sex love, from the perspectives of depth psychology and mythology. Her purpose is to enrich our understanding of homosexual love by discussing its conceptualizations by Freud and Jung, and its meanings as communicated in ancient myths, and by poets and philosophers such as Sappho and Plato. She approaches the subject from a deeply felt personal perspective: "I am a lesbian. Many of my closest male friends are homosexual. Some have AIDS. Some have died" (Prologue, p. xvii). She goes on to express the hope that searching after "an understanding of the soul meaning of same-sex love" will help both heterosexuals and homosexuals understand themselves better, but help the former in particular to "explore the roots of their denigration and fear of homosexuality." One notes that "denigration and fear of homosexuality" is also unfortunately common among homosexuals in contemporary society. The book is written from a subjective, evocative, expressive point of view. It makes no claim to be the work of a scientist or a clinician, although some discussion of Freud's and Jung's cases is provided.

The sections on Freud and Jung are divided into "The Personal Dimension," "The Theory," and "The Classical Cases." In addition, a discussion is provided of Freud's models of female homosexuality. On the one hand, Downing covers ground that is quite familiar to psychoanalytic scholars. Freud's theories about homosexuality have been, by this time, extensively discussed in the psychoanalytic literature.

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